November 28, 2010 in Features

Do It Yourself: Seeking answers for dull floors

Gene Austin McClatchy-Tribune
Quick tip

 Silicone caulks are known for their durability, flexibility and water-resistance, but some caulkers prefer acrylic caulks because they are easy to smooth and can be painted.

 GE, a leading maker of silicone caulks, has met the problem with a new line of caulks called Groov, which it claims have the durability and performance of silicone but the ease-of-use and paintability of acrylics.

 A GE spokeswoman said the caulks are not simply siliconized acrylic, but a special formula that isn’t being revealed.

 Groov caulks can be painted within 30 minutes, are ready for use in an hour if applied in a shower or tub, and resist mold and mildew for five years. The main difference between Groov and acrylics is that Groov can’t be cleaned up with water – the solvent is mineral spirits.

 GE recommends the caulks for indoor or outdoor use and says they can be applied in hot, cold or wet weather.

Q. We have hardwood floors that are very dull after about 12 years. We just had our walls and ceilings refinished and need to do something about those dull floors. What do you suggest?

A. If the floors are just dull with a worn-out finish but are otherwise in good condition except for minor scuffs and scratches, you should be able to make them look like new without sanding.

I suggest trying a Varathane No-Sanding Floor Refinishing Kit in one of the rooms. If you like the results, do the other floors in the same way.

The refinishing kit sells for about $70 at some home centers and on the Internet, and contains enough materials to refinish a 225-square-foot floor (15 by 15 feet). A gallon of semi-gloss water-based urethane floor finish is among the materials.

Refinishing a room generally takes about one day and the room is ready for use in 24 hours. Minor scuff marks and surface scratches generally disappear during the process.

The kit includes written instructions as well as an instructional DVD. Before buying one, I suggest boning up on it on the Internet or by reading the directions on the package at a home center.

The Internet also has sources of the kits as well as some testimonials by users. You can find information by using a search engine and the words Varathane Floor Refinishing Kit.

Q. Can you give me some information and advice about the new cool-roof shingles?

A. Cool-roof shingles are asphalt shingles with reflective granules on the surface. The granules help reflect the sun and reduce heat buildup inside the building.

The shingles serve the same purpose as the white, reflective coatings applied to some flat roofs, but they are available in several colors and can make an attractive roof even on houses where the roof is visible.

According to some sources, the shingles can reduce the surface temperature of a roof by up to 100 degrees. They are especially useful in warm, sunny climates where heat gain through a roof can cause a significant increase in air-conditioning costs.

I think they are a good option for those who need new roofing or are planning to build a new house. I would not tear off good shingles to install cool-roof shingles.

Cool-roof shingles that meet Energy Star specifications are eligible for up to $1,500 in federal income-tax credits, but the credit is due to expire at the end of this year (for more information on tax credits, visit

The shingles are made by a number of manufacturers, including Owens Corning, CertainTeed and GAF.

Q. I will soon be storing some of my gasoline-powered lawn and garden tools for the winter, and a neighbor and I are having a friendly debate over whether it is better to use a gasoline stabilizer in the tank before storing or to run them out of gasoline. What is your opinion?

A. Both systems work, and I use both of them myself, but I like to run my tools out of gasoline when that is possible. This means I don’t have a lot of gasoline-filled tanks sitting around in my garage and storage shed, where they can be a fire hazard.

I start by draining as much gasoline as possible from the tank, using a small hand pump to transfer it to a safe container, then I start the engine and let it run until it stops. Tools that I have treated this way invariably start up right away when I refill them.

If for some reason I am unable to run a tool out of gas, I put some stabilizer like Sta-bil in the tank and run the tool for about five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor. Read the instructions on the container to learn how much stabilizer to use.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

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